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Super Aguri confirm driver line-up 16 Feb 2006

Yuji Ide (JPN) Impul Racing 2nd, Formula Nippon Championship, Rd2, Sugo, Japan, 2 May 2004.  World ©  Sutton

Super Aguri F1 Team have announced an all-Japanese driver line-up for their debut Formula One season.

As expected, Takuma Sato will lead the team, following two seasons as Jenson Button’s partner at BAR Honda. He will be joined by Yuji Ide.

Sato’s best result came at Indianapolis at the 2004 US Grand Prix when he became the first Japanese driver in 14 years to stand on the podium after finishing third. Interestingly, the last Japanese driver to do that was… his new team principal Aguri Suzuki in Japan in 1990.

Ide will make his F1 debut in Bahrain. Little known outside Japan, he came second in the 2005 All Japan Championship Formula Nippon Series (the equivalent of Formula 3000), and since 2003 Yuji has driven in both the Formula Nippon and Super GT Series (formerly All Japan GT Championship) GT500 Class Series’ and has gained experience in French Formula 3 with the Signature team. He has also raced in the All Japan GT Championship GT300 Class, the All Japan F3 Championship and a number of Japanese national Kart Championships since his motorsport career began back in 1990.

"Everyone at Super Aguri has done a great job to make the team happen in such a short period of time," Sato said. "I am extremely excited to be working with the team and especially with Aguri-san who has achieved huge success in motorsport.

"Yesterday I was delighted to shake down the car for the very first time with all of the boys who have done such a great job. We know that there is a lot of hard work to do, but we are up for the challenge and I am really looking forward to it."

Sato's new driving partner Ide said: "This year will be very exciting and challenging. I would like to thank Suzuki-san for giving me the opportunity to drive in Formula One. I drove an F1 car for the first time yesterday and I was nervous, but very excited. The car is powerful! I would also like to thank the whole team for working so hard to get the car ready for yesterday’s shakedown. We had no problems and now I am very much looking forward to testing in Barcelona next week."

On his return to Formula One, Suzuki commented: "I am grateful that these highly experienced drivers are joining my team. Although I expect a tough year as it is our first in Formula One, with these two drivers I will put all my efforts into creating a positive outcome."